Preparing Music Educators for 2001

October 31, 1991

Three critical issues regarding the preparation of music educators for the next century serve as the focus of this article: How do we ensure that music education students gain skill in the use of current technology in music teaching? What undergraduate experiences are most helpful to prospective teachers who will be working with classrooms of students who have diverse cultural backgrounds? What can we do to help the graduates of our programs make an effective transition into teaching positions in which they are called upon to discharge ever- mounting sets of responsibilities?

Technology and Music Teaching -- As technology becomes more sophisticated at an accelerating pace, and more widely available within the nation's schools, education in music will change in a number of ways. For example, consider the changes in computer-aided instruction in music that have occurred over the last several years. The earlier programs in many cases were merely Electronic versions of drill and practice routines that teachers had been using for years to help students acquire factual knowledge; indeed, some of this software functioned primarily as a set of flashcards. In contrast, recent programs take advantage of the expanded capability of newer computers and allow students to explore music-making to make choices regarding sounds and silences. The situation seems analogous to what happens with word processing for verbal material: the computer serves as a note processor as it allows students to create, store, re call, modify, and print their compositions. As the technology becomes more sophisticated, music educators may encounter what Bennett Reimer has called a revolution. In his words (March 1989, p. 28): "Now we face a revolution equal in its musically transformative potential to that of the earlier one. Just as the phonograph allowed all people direct access to all music through the essential mode by which music is experienced-listening-the developing computer technologies are providing all people with the capacity to do something that only the tiniest fraction of people in Western cultures could do previously-to compose." Consider also the programs which "listen" to a student's performance and then furnish appropriate feedback in a manner that resembles what a live teacher would provide. Clearly, the note processor and performance feedback programs will cause dramatic changes in many music classrooms, for they will enable learners to become less teacher- dependent and more self-directed. The teacher's role will continue to include diagnosis and prescription-but in identifying the piece of software that would serve as the appropriate etude for a student at a given level of development. Universities need to be leaders regarding the technological innovations that are profoundly affecting musical and educational practice. Clearly, our students deserve instruction to prepare them to work with the new technologies; the only question is whether this instruction will be provided within existing or newly-created courses (such as Electronic Techniques, for example), or whether students will be asked to develop knowledge in this area by pursuing their own resources, then to demonstrate their facility with technology to the faculty.

Diverse Cultural Backgrounds -- An observer entering the "typical" classroom of today will find a group of students who have diverse cultural backgrounds. For example, in Arizona and California, the groups that previously have been considered as minorities already comprise more than 50% of the school-age population. Also, statistics from the federal government indicate that there are more than 3 million children in the nation's schools whose language background is other than English; more specifically, there are more than 150 languages repre sented in the public schools nationwide. Multicultural perspectives obviously will become an increasingly important component of methods courses for future teachers, but we also need to consider how we can provide more of a multicultural approach in other music classes, such as theory, literature, and history, and in ensembles. In particular, we need to consider the impor tant benefits that accrue when music majors have the opportunity to participate in "nontraditional" ensembles. For instance, University of Arizona students who participate in our steel drum group, the Pan Handlers, or in Mariachi Arizona develop greater skill in learning music through an aural approach.

Transition into Teaching -- Graduates in music education wiU deal with an increasingly complex set of job-related responsibilities as they begin their teaching careers, for boards of education and state legislatures are asking schools and teachers to address a number of social concerns in addition to the regular curriculum-two examples would be the problem of the growing pool of children "at risk" and drug education. The complexity of our teaching environments indicates we will need to devote greater emphasis to helping students make an effective transition from college into the first and second years of teaching. The model described in the recent MENC publication Music Teacher Education:

Partnership and Process (1987) could be quite useful here. Especially helpful is the suggestion that a committee be assembled for each of our graduating students-a committee that includes at minimum the student, a professor from the college or university, and a person from the district in which the student will be teaching. The committee members would formulate a professional development plan for the new teacher, one that addresses four aspects of continued professional growth-Personal, Intellectual, Musical, and Instructional competencies.

Coda -- Three succinct recommendations for music schools or departments provide a closing for this brief article: (1) Make a specific commitment to developing students' knowledge of and skiffs with current music technologies. (2) Provide increased support for multicultural preparation in music; for example, faculty could encourage the formation of additional ensembles which might be regarded in some departments as nontraditional-a koto ensemble, a mariachi group, a steel drum group, or a gamelan. (3) Carefully examine Music Teacher Education: Partnership and Process in order to determine which of its suggestions might help music education graduates make a more effective transition into the teaching force.

References -- Music Educators National Conference. (1987). Music teacher education: partnership and process. Reston, VA, and Reimer, B. (1989, March). Music education as aesthetic education: toward the future. MusicEducators Journal, pp. 26-32.

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